Hot Keywords: inspection air water soil pollution 
 
Speech by MEP Minister Zhou Shengxian at 2013 National Work Meeting on Environmental Protection

Major tasks of the 2013 National Work Meeting on Environmental Protection are identified as follows: the environmental protection system will seriously implement the essence of the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the Central Economic Work Meeting. Led by the thought of building ecological civilization and oriented toward building a beautiful country, we will focus on prominent environmental problems harming scientific development and people’s health, review our performance in 2012 and make arrangement for 2013.

Now I will address four problems.   

I. Seriously Implementing the Gist of the 18th National Congress of the CPC 

The 18th National Congress of the CPC took place at a critical moment when China was to enter a decisive stage of building an all-rounded moderately prosperous society. It held high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, carried forward our cause and lifted our spirits. A historic decision and contribution of the Congress was that it identified Scientific Outlook on Development, together with Maxism and Leninism, Mao Zedong Thoughts, Deng Xiaoping Theory and Three Represents, as the guidance the Party must follow for a long time to come, marking one more progress in the Party’s guiding principle. An attraction of the Congress was that it put ecological civilization at a strategic position as important as economic, political, cultural and social development and made it one of the five overall arrangements for pursuing the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. A separate chapter was devoted to the topic for the first time, making it one more innovation the Party has made in the concept and practice of governance.

As the latest theoretic result of the Party in providing innovative solution to the relationship among economic development, resources and environment, building ecological civilization charts the course for achieving harmonious development between man and nature. It is a strategic arrangement the Party made to meet people’s new expectations and improve the overall layout of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Ecological civilization is a great contribution of the Party in promoting the progress of human civilization. This is accomplished by fully absorbing the traditional culture and wisdom of the Chinese nation and reflecting on the defects of industrial industrialization and current development model. It is the distillation and expansion of sustainable development as a result of the Party’s deep understanding toward the new global trend of going green and low carbon.     

Ecological civilization represents the material, spiritual and institutional achievements of human race in protecting and developing a good environment and a kind of social form where man and nature, environment and economic development and man and society coexist harmoniously. The precondition for building ecological civilization is to observe the law of nature and respect nature. Based on the carrying capacity of the environment, the initiative aims at building harmony between man and nature, environment and economic development and man and society. The essential requirement is to establish a resource-efficient and environment-friendly society through creating a green industrial structure, production and consumption pattern and improving the ability of sustainable development. It is integrated into the whole process of economic, political, cultural and social development. Advanced ecological ethic is the direction of ecological progress and developed ecological economy is the material foundation. We must establish a sound ecological civilization system as mechanism for incentive and restraint, reliable ecological security is the obligatory bottom line, and an improved ecological environment is the ultimate objective of efforts to promote ecological progress. The theory and practice of building ecological civilization bear distinct characteristics. Its value system emphasizes respect for nature, conformance with nature and protection of nature and guiding principle gives priority to conservation, protection and rehabilitation of nature. The way to achieve ecological civilization relies on our effort to promote green development, low carbon technology and circular economy. It is a long-term and arduous process aiming at building a beautiful country.   

Environmental protection is the main front for building ecological civilization and the stage and platform for building a beautiful China. Any achievements in environmental work will make positive contributions to building ecological civilization and a beautiful China. The national environmental system should work as a leader, enforcer and promoter for building ecological civilization and a beautiful country.

Studying the gist of the 18th National Congress of the CPC is the primary political task of the national environmental system. The leading party members’ group of MEP formulated and issued implementing scheme and devoted one month for intensive study by organizing coach report and experience sharing meeting. Heads of all MEP departments and affiliates made remarks on their study, inspiring all staff of the environmental system to implement the gist of the congress. As a result, our thoughts get united, the ability to study has greatly improved, the morale boosted and environmental work pushed ahead.

Through this study process, we realized that we need to grasp five perspectives in order to deal with environmental protection according to the notion and requirement of ecological civilization. First, environmental protection is our conscious effort to practice scientific outlook. Scientific outlook should be treated as a political belief, a truth and guidance on our action. Second, environmental protection concerns the overall national economic development. Environmental problems, in nature, are problems connected with economic structure, production and consumption mode and the direction of development. We must take a correct view on the relationship between environment and economic development and abandon the old way of polluting the environment first and treating it afterwards or pursuing economic growth at the cost of environment. Third, we must bear in the mind the grand goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way by 2020. This project will benefit over one billion population and one of the most important marks, also one of the biggest restraints, is the environment. Fourth, environmental protection should be put into the whole process of production, circulation, distribution and consumption. As the whole process of reproduction involves resource consumption and generates pollution, we must strengthen environmental protection in the whole process of reproduction. Fifth, environmental protection should be integrated into intensified development of economic globalization. Environmental problems go global as factors of production, inter industry division of work and resource allocation move across regions.  

We also understand active exploration to a new path to environmental protection is the realistic approach to building ecological civilization. It requires us to deepen our understanding toward environmental problems with new ideas, grasp the opportunity for environmental cause from a new perspective, make more achievements by new endeavors, guarantee the development of our cause through new systems and make plans for the present and the future with new thoughts.

To actively explore a new path to environmental protection, promote the building of ecological civilization and building a beautiful China is a broad and profound change involving perception, behavior, institutions and systems. We must take stock of the historical position of environmental protection at present stage and the phased characteristics of the environmental cause. In terms of the relationship between man and nature, China has entered a new stage where the deteriorating trend of environmental degradation needs to be reversed from sources and the level of harmony between man and nature needs to be elevated. In terms of relations between environment and economic development, we are embracing a new stage that environment is cared in the process of economic development and economic development is achieved in the course of environmental protection and environmental protection will help optimize economic development. In terms of the relationship between environment and politics, ecological civilization has been incorporated into the overall arrangement of socialist cause with Chinese characteristics and a new stage unfolds where the Party needs to improve its ability to lead the development of ecological civilization. In terms of the relationship between environment and culture, we enter a new stage where great effort will be made to promote the concept of ecological civilization and contribute to the prosperity of socialist culture cause through enhanced environmental awareness. In terms of the relationship between environment and society, we have come to a new stage that priority is given to prominent environmental problems harming public health and improvement of people’s wellbeing.   

At a new historical starting point, we must explore deeply with innovative ideas, speed up the effort to formulate the overall scheme to promote reform and development of the environmental cause and define the priority area and the road map and timetable.

1. Accelerating transformation of environmental management. Aiming at improving environmental quality, we will enforce more stringent standard on environmental quality and make a shift in environmental management from passive response to active prevention and control, from control of pollution in part of areas to regional prevention and control of pollution, from merely dealing with primary pollutants to tackling both primary and secondary pollutants and from focusing on specific pollutants to synergetic control of multiple pollutants. We will make environmental work more refined, more adapted to the application of information technology and more specialized.

2. Deepening reform on examination and approval. After six reorganizations by the State Council, MEP now is responsible for examination and approval of 40 types of administrative procedures, of which 30 types are undertaken by MEP directly. We will push ahead with reform of administrative approval. First, we will further clarify and adjust projects for examination and approval, better handle the relationship between reform of administrative approval and strengthening environmental work. So long as local EPBs are able to do it well, they can be empowered to approve some projects. Things that can be effectively regulated by market mechanism and managed by industrial organizations will be exempted from administrative approval. Second, we will regulate procedures for administrative approval. While identifying matters for environmental administrative approval, we will conduct strict review on their legality, necessity and rationality. Third, we will create effective ways for approval, stressing simplified procedures and e-governance. Fourth, we will reinforce supervision on exercise of power. Whole-process monitoring of administrative approval will be enhanced to form a system fighting against corruption.

Currently, EIA work have encountered some new situation and problems that needs more innovation and improvement. We must strengthen EIA according to law to improve its independence, objectivity, impartiality and transparency. We will revise the catalogue of construction projects for EIA management and approval, empower local departments to manage project approval, simplify procedures, shorten the time period for processing and improve efficiency. MEP will cooperate with related departments to conduct social risk assessment on major construction projects. We will strengthen accountability system and improve system for accusation and environmental damage compensation.

3. Strengthening information disclosure. As more and more people are now acquiring environmental awareness, they are having stronger demand for participating in social management. We must do more in information disclosure on environmental inspection and project approval and promote disclosure of environmental monitoring information involving people’s wellbeing and great concern. Information release will be taken as an important indicator for assessing management of environmental emergencies. We will provide more conditions to ease public application for disclosure of government information and promote legalization and standardization of information disclosure.

4. Expanding public participation. Good methods for carrying out environmental tasks are attributed to people’s rich experience. We should learn to deal with people and respond to people’s concerns and expectations earnestly. We must adhere to the mass line that the masses are the source of wisdom and efforts for every activity, especially for pollution prevention and control. We should reach out to the grassroots and visit places where environmental quality is most complained about and there is much difficulty in implementing environmental tasks. We need to solve problems at the grassroots level and check them in the bud.   

5. Improving work style. The CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping pays high attention to transformation of work style. The 18th Political Bureau of CCCPC set out eight rules on improving work style and closely contacting the masses, which set a good example for all party members and demonstrated the resolution of the CPC Central Committee that the Party should take control of itself by way of strict management. Work style concerns the party’s image and competence. It is a great treasure. Environmental system should make improving work style a priority and find out any deficiency and gap in work style building. We should waste no time in formulating measures for improving work style, establishing and improving related regulations so as to enforcing various tasks in high spirits and fine work style.

II. Notable Progress in Environmental Workin 2012   

Over the past year the national environmental system has seriously implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee on environmental protection and the gist of the 7th national conference on environmental protection and the national work meeting on environmental protection. Positive progress was made in various key tasks.   

1. Implementing the gist of the 7th National Conference on Environmental Protection.   

In 2011 put forward the thought of protecting the environment in the course of economic development and pursuing environmental development in the process of environmental protection, which is a landmark achievement. The gist of the conference include the following six aspects: first, identifying the strategic thought of environmental work in the new era, i.e. protecting the environment in the course of economic development and pursuing environmental development in the process of environmental protection; second, defining the role of environmental protection, that is to optimize economic development; third, further exploring the historical position of the new path to environmental protection; fourth, identifying the priority of environmental work, which is to solve notorious environmental problems harming scientific development and public health; fifth, clarifying the orientation of the core values of environmental workers, that is to carry forward the virtue of allegiance to duty, serving the interest of the people, seeking scientificness and rigor, being realistic and innovative, fearlessness, sacrifice, solidarity and collaboration; sixth, making clear the position of environmental protection as the main front and fundamental measure for building ecological civilization

All localities have been active in enforcing the requirements of the conference and various arrangements. 28 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) have held similar environmental meetings and 26 of them have issued documents on strengthening environmental protection in the name of local Party Committee or government.   

2. The annual task of reducing pollution was completed in success.   

Identifying tasks and assessing performance strictly. We offered local and state owned enterprises guidance on preparing plan for pollution reduction in a timely manner and posted announcement on key projects to be completed in 2012 and large scale breeding farms adopting pollution control measures in 2011. We promoted pilot program on performance management of pollution reduction and urged local departments and companies to correct their problems. MEP interviewed some officials from provincial governments and managers of state-owned enterprises and blacklisted 8 sewage treatment plants. Tianjin, Shannxi and Gansu accelerated implementation of key projects and pollution control measures through supervision and warning.

Focusing on central tasks and putting all efforts to it. Major pollution reduction projects and guarantee measures were implemented in thermal power plants, steel works, cement plants, paper mills, sewage treatment plants, breeding farms and vehicles. 1276 projects that should be completed in 2012 according to the target responsibility letter have been put into operation and the installed capacity of coal-fired units undergoing denitration renovation added by 40 million kw.

Establishing and improving standing-effect mechanism for pollution reduction. We have strengthened supervision on environmental protection and implementation of pollution reduction policies and drafted Measures on Management of Denitration Electricity Price and Operation of Denitration Facilities. The policy on national denitration electricity price will soon be introduced. We have made the initial draft of Measures on Calculation, Monitoring and Assessment of Total Pollution Reduction for the 12th Five-year Plan and formulated Regulation on Managing Total Pollution Discharge from Construction Projects (on trial).

Examination results showed that in 2012 total discharge of COD dropped by 3.05%, SO2 by 4.52%, NH3 by 2.62% and NOx by 2.77% respectively compared with 2011 level, marking a success in implementation of pollution reduction task.   

3. The role of environmental protection in optimizing economic development further enlarged.   

We continue with strategic EIA, EIA for plans and EIA of construction projects. EIA of the strategy of western development drive progressed steadily, EIA for plans was implemented in the entire river basin of Jinsha River section by section for the bases of hydraulic project and EIA for plans was comprehensively enforced in major tributaries of the seven river basins. We resolutely check construction projects involved in high energy consumption, high pollution and resource-depleting industries, redundant projects and overcapacity projects. In 2012, MEP approved 240 EIA documents on projects with a total investment of 1.4 trillion yuan. Among them, 79 projects are for capital construction and people’s well being, accounting for half of the total investment. 24 disqualified projects involving 100 billion yuan investment were either rejected, disapproved or suspended approval.   

Deepening reform on EIA system. We will carry out EIA work by law and regulations, expand public participation, deliver transparent service in the three process of accepting EIA applications, examination and approval and check & acceptance. Some approval power on EIA programs will be delegated to subordinates. We will work with related departments to make social risk assessment. Reform of EIA system in public institutions has quickened. Among the 97 pilot organizations in two groups, 22 organizations have completed reorganization and 47 have basically gone through the procedures.

Improving environmental standard system and deepening audit of clean production. We have issued 68 standards for environmental protection and set stricter discharge limit for such industrial sectors as textile dyeing and finishing, iron and steel and coking. The prevailing national standard for environmental protection totaled 1374, which have played a positive role for promoting industrial restructuring. We have pushed ahead with clean production audit of important enterprises and announced 8775 enterprises that have completed EIA check and acceptance.

4. Making new headway in solving environmental problems affecting people’s wellbeing.   

New standard on ambient air quality was issued. Approved by the State Council, we issued newly revised Standard on Ambient Air Quality and Technical Provisions on Air Quality Index (on trial) and introduced a three-step master plan for implementing the standard. We started monitoring of PM2.5 and O3 in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta in 2012 and will expand the monitoring scope to 113 key cities for environmental protection and national model cities on environmental protection in 2013 and extend the scope to all cities above prefecture level in 2015. The standard will be put into practice across China since Jan. 1, 2016. MEP issued Monitoring Scheme for New Standard on Air Quality (Stage I) and Opinions on Building Capacity for Monitoring Air Quality, which specified the scope, content and requirement on stage I monitoring. Through active coordination with Ministry of Finance and other departments we have secured funds for special programs. In 2012, the central government appropriated 519 million yuan to subsidize local areas and local government invested 430 million yuan in environmental protection. 496 monitoring sites in 74 cities including those in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Deal, municipalities and provincial capitals have started monitoring by the new standard and the monitoring data were released since Jan. 1, 2013.

Enhancing protection of drinking water source areas and control of groundwater pollution. The State Council approved the 12th Five-year Plan on Projects for Drinking Water Safety in Rural Areas. MEP organized environmental assessment on concentrated drinking water sources in cities above prefecture level across China, gathering basic information on 833 water source areas in 321 cities. We have implemented the National Plan on Prevention and Control of Groundwater Pollution and prepared a work plan for groundwater pollution control in the North China Plain.   

Strengthening pollution control of heavy metals, hazardous waste and chemicals. The central government has allocated a special fund of 5.4 billion Yuan for treatment of heavy metal pollution. MEP has issued the assessment methods and detailed guidelines for the implementation of 12th Five-Year Plan for Prevention and Control of Heavy Metal Pollution, and organized and conducted implementation assessment for the first time. We have successfully intensified the clean-up of historical chromium residue. A total of 2.3 million tons of chromium residues, a volume which is 3 times the annual average disposal amount for the previous 6 years, have been disposed. We have essentially finished the disposal of 6.7 million tons of chromium residue which had been piled all over the country for several decades or even half a century. We have compiled the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Risk Prevention and Control from Chemicals and issued the 12th Five-Year Plan for Prevention and Control of Persistent Organic Pollutants in Major Industries.

Enhancing environmental enforcement and emergency management. We continued to extensively carry out special actions of environmental protection. We deployed more than 2.55 million law enforcement officers, inspected more than 1 million companies, investigated and prosecuted 8,779 legal violation cases. We also released and supervised the handling of 1,770 violation cases. We intensified our supervision on 1,216 lead-acid battery manufacturers which were in production, suspension or rectification, and closed down 289 violators. We successfully accomplished the 100-day environmental safety inspection, during which 43,000 enterprises were inspected, 2,296 potential environmental risks were identified, 2,245 problem enterprises were rectified, and 105 enterprises were blacklisted and ordered to fix their problems under surveillance. MEP directly scheduled and handled 33 environmental emergencies, a decrease of 55% year-on-year.

5. Realizing greater breakthroughs in pollution control in major river basins, sea areas and regions

Continually intensifying pollution control in major river basins and sea areas. The State Council has approved the Plan on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution for Major River Basins (2011-2015). We have improved the assessment indicators system for the implementation of special planning for water pollution control in key river basins, and conducted the implementation assessment of the planning for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Meanwhile, we also made solid progress in the prevention and treatment of water pollution in the “three lakes”, and achieved preliminary improvement in the water quality of major lake basins like Taihu Lake.

Giving priorities to lakes with sound ecosystems. We have allocated a total of 2.5 billion Yuan special fund for the year. 19 pilot lakes were newly added, and the number of pilot projects for lake protection has thus accumulated to 27 nationwide. Hubei Province has enacted local laws and regulations to protect lakes, and managed lakes such as Liangzi Lake in accordance with the law. With proper treatments, the environment quality has been further improved in areas like Erhai in Yunnan Province and Taiping Lake in Anhui Province.  

Striving to prevent and control air pollution. The State Council has approved the 12th Five-Year Plan on Air Pollution Control in Key Regions, and required us to adopt air pollution control measures such as comprehensive treatment, synergetic control, join prevention & control, and etc. Since the start of the 12th Five-Year Plan, Beijing has scrapped more than 550,000 obsolete motor vehicles, and completed its task of eliminating 400,000 old vehicles three years ahead of schedule. Shanxi Province implemented the crucial action to improve air quality, and the coal consumption has been cut down by 6.74 million tons in the city proper of 11 cities divided into districts.  

6. Constantly strengthening ecological and rural environmental protection

Biodiversity conservation has been escalated to a national strategy. Li Keqiang, Vice Premier, chaired the first meeting of the National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation, and the China Action Plan for UN Decade on Biodiversity was approved during the meeting. We have successfully set up the satellite remote sensing to monitor human activities and conducted field verification in 363 National Nature Reserves. The remote sensing investigation and assessment of ten-year changes of national environment (2000-2010) has been fully started. Across the country, 15 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), over 1,000 counties (cities and districts) and 53 regions have established pilot projects on ecological civilization.  

The policy of reward-based pollution control has brought in more capital and expanded its coverage. The central government has allocated 5.5 billion Yuan of special funds for rural environmental protection to support the comprehensive treatment of rural environment. By the end of 2012, 23 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) had been incorporated into demo area for contiguous environmental treatment, and the central government had invested a total amount of 13.5 billion Yuan for this endeavor which has benefited 26,000 villages and more than 57 million rural population. We issued the 12th Five-Year Plan for National Comprehensive Treatment of Rural Environment and the 12th Five-Year Plan for Prevention and Control of Pollution from Livestock and Poultry Farming. We completed the national soil pollution investigation, and worked with related departments to draft the 12th Five-Year Plan for Soil Environment Protection  

7. Establishing the ecological compensation mechanism at a preliminary level  

We are actively cooperating with the Ministry of Finance to launch ecological compensation pilot projects in areas such as Xin’an River basin. Our country is now exploring the effective ways of eco-compensation between upstream and downstream river, inside and outside the nature reserves, and among main functional zones. The establishment and implementation of eco-compensation mechanism in key ecological function zones have achieved better results. Since 2008, the central government has adopted transfer payment to some counties (cities and districts) within the scope of key ecological function zones, involving more than 20 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities). Total supporting funds in 5 years had reached to 110 billion Yuan, and annual fund had increased from 6.05 billion Yuan in 2008 to 37.1 billion Yuan in 2012. For the same period of time, the number of beneficial counties (cities and districts) had jumped from 221 to 466. According to the comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of the environmental quality results of 452 counties included in the program, from 2009 to 2011, environmental quality in 58 counties, accounting for 12.8%, had been improved and that in 380 counties (84.1%) had remained stable.

8. Further ensuring nuclear and radiation safety 

The State Council has approved the 12th Five-Year Plan for Nuclear Safety and Prevention & Control of Radioactive Pollution and Vision for 2020, which involves an investment of 79.8 billion Yuan. In China, all 15 running nuclear power plants are in safe operation, the quality of the 29 nuclear power plants under construction is kept under control, and 19 civilian research reactors are generally in good conditions. By mobilizing more than 190,000 supervisory staffs/visits, we launched a national comprehensive investigation on radiation safety to inspect nearly 60,000 entities utilizing nuclear technology. We have intensified the treatment of radioactive waste and uranium mining & metallurgy pollution and promoted a whole process supervision of electromagnetic radiation environment.

9. Making solid progress on policies and legal construction, environmental planning, science and technology monitoring,promotion and education, and international cooperation.

The draft revision of Environment Protection Law has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for preliminary deliberation and the Cleaner Production Promotion Law has been amended and promulgated. We released the Comprehensive Catalogues for Environmental Protection of 2012, and carried out pilot projects of compulsory environmental pollution liability insurance in 15 provinces. 11 plans which were initiated by our Ministry and later submitted to the State Council for approval have finished compiling, and nine of them have already been released and implemented. For the first time, the General Office of the State Council splits up and assigned the tasks of environmental planning to specific departments. We worked out the National Environmental Function Zoning Outline, and conducted pilot projects of provincial environmental function zoning in Jilin, Zhejiang and Xinjiang. We started the revision of the Environmental Quality Standards for Surface Water. We actively promoted the space-ground integration process of environment monitoring. The Environment-1C satellite was launched successfully. New progress has been made in the implementation of The Major Science and Technology Program for Water Body Pollution Control and Treatment. We organized a series of seminars for the model deeds of Comrade Meng Xianglin. We prudently carried out the reform of environmental cultural system. We successfully hosted the 20th Anniversary Side-Event of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment (CCICED) at UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the 2012 AGM of CCICED. Positive progress has been made in international environmental cooperation.

10. Further enhancing capability and team building of environmental protection  

A substantial increase in investment in environmental protection. Our Ministry participated in the distribution of more than 26 billion Yuan central fiscal expenditure in environmental protection, an over 50% increase of 2011. The office building construction projects for environmental monitoring and law enforcement have been progressed smoothly. The operating rate and completion rate for these 565 projects are 97% and 65% respectively. We supported 24 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and 164 counties (districts) to develop standardized environmental monitoring stations, and equipped 170 monitoring and law enforcement departments with mobile law enforcement systems and volatile gas detecting devices.

Continuing to strengthen the building of talent pool. Capacity building of agency and staffing administration has been enhanced constantly. We have intensified efforts in the competitive selection of leading cadres, and the contingent of cadres of our Ministry and its affiliates has thus been further strengthened. We carried out the Mid- and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Capable Personnel in Environmental Protection (2010-2020), and set up Leading Group of Talent Work in MEP. We adhere to the graded and classified training. We have trained cadres and different types of talents for more than 40,000 person-times with an annual plan with a completion rate of 115%.

Continuously deepening the campaign of building advanced grassroots party organizations and seeking to become outstanding Communist Party members, and the building of the Party's work style and the clean government. We consolidated the achievements of the campaign, fully implemented the deployment of “the year of grassroots party organization building”, and improved the grassroots party organizations of our affiliates. We implemented the system of accountability for improving Party conduct and upholding integrity. Led by the leaders of our Ministry, we carried out spot-checks focusing on the system building of punishing and preventing corruption. We promoted the establishment of monitoring mechanism over the exercise of power, launched the campaign of “education month of improving Party conduct and upholding integrity”, strictly investigated and prosecuted cases involving violation of laws and regulations, and educated and guided our party members and cadres to hold the ideological line in the face of corruption.

We are also soberly aware that China's environment is still in serious conditions. We should have not only the sense of urgency to fight a tenacious battle, but also the full mental preparation for a protracted war. First, the tasks of emission reduction are arduous due to the huge total emissions of major pollutants. Although the growth rate of investment in energy-intensive, heavy pollution and resource guzzling industries has declined, the pollution increase caused by existing capacity is still imposing great pressure. There are about 15 million new motor vehicles each year, and the motor vehicle NOx emission will still be in an increasing trend. Second, environmental pollution remains a serious problem. The air quality in about 70% of the cities did not reach the new air quality standards. The long-lasting and large-scale smoggy weather occurred in many areas recently has affected 17 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), accounting for about one fourth of the nation’s territory, and involved 600 million people. The quality of about 20% of national surface water sections under the state's key monitoring program is still inferior to Grade V standard, meaning the water has basically lost its water function. Groundwater of the urban districts in half of the cities has been severely polluted. The water quality in 57% of all monitoring sites turned out to be worse or worst. Third, environmental risks continue to increase and environmental problems harming people's health are still prominent. China is experiencing an overlap period, during which social transformation and environmental sensitivity, high incidence of environment risks and the rising of environmental awareness are coexisting. Environmental problems built up over time are all emerging. PM2.5, drinking water safety, lead poisoning incidents and chemical pollution have all attracted people's extensive concern. Fourth, the environmental administration system is not perfect, resulting in dispersing and overlapping administrative functions in environmental protection. Also, there still exist issues like the delay in capability building, insufficient supervision and urgent needs to improve talents building. Fifth, our work style needs an urgent transformation, and our service capability needs to be further improved. We shall pay high attention to these issues and adopt effective measures.   

III. Making every effort to achieve the key tasks of 2013

The core requirements of environmental work this year is as follows. We will thoroughly implement the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC),vigorously promote the building of ecological civilization, focus on solving prominent environmental problems hindering the scientific development and damaging people's health, actively explore new approaches to protect environment emphasizing “protecting the environment in the course of economic development and pursuing environmental development in the process of environmental protection, accelerate the strategic transformation of environmental management, be brave to be the leader, promoter and enforcer to promote the building of ecological civilization.

Key tasks of 2013 are as follows:

1. Thoroughly studying and implementing the spirit of the 18th National Congress

In accordance with the requirements of the “Notice of the CPC Central Committee on Studying,Promoting and Implementing the Spirit of the 18th National Congress” and “Arrangement of MEP on Studying and Implementing the Spirit of the 18th National Congress”, we shall innovate the vehicle of activity, take a variety of measures and focus on improving the effectiveness,and specifically we shall pay attention to the learning and training activities of cadres at the director-general level and director level. We shall carry out activities to study and practise our Party’s mass line focusing on the need to serve the people and to be down-to-earth, honest and upright in conduct. We should adhere to the principle of “translating knowledge into practice and enhancing learning through practice”,and convert the spirit of the 18th National Congress into motivation of our work to promote the building of ecological civilization, actively explore new approaches to protecting environment, build a contingent of cadres with high quality, good work style and in good spirits, and fully accomplish this year’s every environmental task.  

2. Making every effort to achieve the task of emission reduction.   

Emission reduction task for 2013 is as follows: comparing to the level of 2012, COD and SO2 emissions should both be lowered by 2%, NH3 and NOxemissions by 2.5% and 3% respectively. We will conscientiously implement the spirit of the “Comprehensive Work Plans for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction Issued by the State Council” and the “Comprehensive Working Program for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction in the 12th Five-Year Plan Period”. We will conduct rigorous national evaluation on the performance of the annual emission reduction targets and publish the results to the public. We will implement a budget management system of aggregate indicators of major pollutants, and strictly control the increment of pollutant. We will focus on the implementation of emission reduction measure for six kinds of plants and vehicle pollution management (including sewage treatment plants, paper mills, livestock and poultry farms, thermal power plants, steel mills, cement plants and motor vehicles), and ensure the timely completion and operation in high quality of the 1,545 key emission reduction projects this year. We will also improve inter-department mechanisms for synergetic emission reductions.   

3. Giving full play to the positive role of environmental protection to optimize economic development.

Accelerating the preparation of environmental function zoning. We will promote the pilot projects of environmental function zoning at the provincial level, guide and advocate the first batch of 12 cities to work out an overall plan for urban environment, and try an early submission of the “National Environmental Function Zoning Outline” to the State Council for approval. We need to set up environmental objectives, policies and standards for different regions, and exercise management by categories and zones.

Continually strengthening and improving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of construction project. We will maintain strict control over the expansion of energy-intensive, heavy pollution and resource guzzling industries and redundant and overcapacity projects, speed up the elimination of backward production capacities, and support the development of emerging strategic industries, infrastructure and livelihood projects. We will implement the requirements of EIA management on projects related to chemical & petrochemical, heavy metal, steel, transportation infrastructure construction. We will organize and conduct post-project-evaluation on major projects.

Further deepening the reform of EIA system. We will expand the scope of public participation and increase information disclosure, rationally adjust project approval authority, promote the separation of EIA report preparation organizations from the approval agency, strengthen the dynamic management and elimination mechanism of EIA agencies, and actively cooperate to do a good job on social risk assessment.

4. Strengthening the monitoring, information dissemination and comprehensive management of PM2.5.

With respect to the smoggy weather recently occurred in many areas, Vice Premier Li Keqiang gave an import instruction requiring MEP to provide timely air pollution warning to the public for prevention. Our leading Party members’ group has thus carried out research and made arrangements promptly, and issued an urgent circular with explicit requests on the following aspects: enforcing the monitoring of air quality and releasing subsequent information timely, implementing the contingency plan for heavy air pollution, improving air pollution prevention and control emphasizing the control of PM2.5, and further clarifying responsibilities. Environmental protection departments at all levels took quick actions to respond actively, providing guidance to the public for active participation and common action. However, the tasks of monitoring, information release and prevention of PM2.5 are still very demanding, and should be the top priority of our work this year.     

We should carefully summarize the implementation of Stage I monitoring scheme for new standard on air quality and ensure stable operation of the 496 monitoring sites in 74 cities. We should further promote air quality interconnecting monitoring among key areas such as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta. In 2013, we will carry out the monitoring of six indicators (including PM2.5) in 113 key environmental protection cities and model cities on environmental protection. We will also work out Stage II monitoring scheme for new standard on air quality and publish the results before the end of December. Local environmental protection departments at all levels shall not interfere with the monitoring results of their administrative regions. MEP will, in line with related regulations, severely punish any fabrication and falsification behaviors.   

We will further promote and implement “the 12th Five-Year Plan on Air Pollution Control in Key Regions” and adopt comprehensive measures to control PM2.5. We should ensure that by 2015 the annual average concentration ofPM2.5 in key regions will be cut down by 5% and 6% in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta. Beijing and other major cities should take the lead on legislation, achieving the target and keeping pace with international standards. Firstly, we will promote PM2.5 to be included in the statistics, monitoring and evaluation system for pollutant reduction. We should reduce the sources of PM2.5 emissions via adjusting economic structures, optimizing production modes, and changing lifestyle and consumption patterns. Secondly, we will implement urban air quality compliance management. We consider that, cities with the primary atmospheric pollutant exceeding standard by less than 15% will strive to meet compliance in 2015; cities with the primary atmospheric pollutant exceeding standard between 15% and 30% will strive to achieve target in 2020; and cities with the primary atmospheric pollutant exceeding standard by over 30% should come up with medium to long-term compliance plan. We will try our best to ensure the air quality in all cities nationwide will reach Grade II air quality standard. Thirdly, we will improve the join prevention and control mechanism for regional air pollution. For Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Yangtze River Delta and other inter-provincial regions, we consider setting up a leading group for joint prevention and control of air pollution led by MEP and joined by corresponding institutions and provincial governments within the region. Provincial governments will coordinate the air pollution control in cities within the Pearl River Delta. Fourthly, we will promote synergetic control of multi-pollutants. We will start pilot projects for the total volume control of coal consumption and strictly limit the new emissions of pollutants. For cities with heavy air pollution, the amount of pollutant emission by new construction projects should be exponentially offset by the amount from existing projects within the same region. Fifthly, we will deepen the control of motor vehicle pollution. We will fully implement the management environmental label management for vehicles and expedite the elimination of “yellow label vehicles”. Operating “yellow label vehicles” registered before 2005 will virtually be banned. We will improve the quality of vehicle fuel and implement the “National IV Standard” for heavy-duty diesel vehicles. Sixthly, we shall do a good job to handle the emergency of air pollution. We will supervise local government to establish and properly implement the contingency plan for air pollution. We will adopt measures such as work stoppage, limited production, limited emission and traffic restrictions. We will timely and accurately release air pollution information, offer health protection and outing advice to various groups of people to protect people’s environmental rights to informed choice and physical health.     

5. Furthering the comprehensive prevention and control of pollution in major river basins.

We will establish tailor-made comprehensive pollution control plans for different priority control units in major river basins and give priorities to units with better water quality. We will also establish “National Ecological Protection Plan for Lakes with Sound Ecosystems (2011-2020)” and adopt policies and approaches like “centralized support”, “one lake one policy”, and etc.  

We will implement the “National Environmental Protection Guidelines for Urban Centralized Drinking Water Source Areas” and guarantee safety of drinking water environment. We will push cities at prefecture level and above to publish the water quality conditions of drinking water sources on a regular basis. We will carry out assessment and interim evaluation of the implementation of the “12th Five-Year Plan for the Comprehensive Prevention and Control of Heavy Metal Pollution”, and strictly control the total amount of heavy metal pollutant discharge. We will execute the “12th Five-Year Plan for Chemical Environmental Risk Prevention and Control” and rigorously manage chemical environment. We will strengthen the prevention and control of persistent organic pollutants in major industries. We will further strengthen the management of key pollution sources of hazardous waste such as chromium dregs, promote the prevention and control of e-waste, and adopt whole process supervision.  

6. Intensifying ecological and rural environmental protection efforts.

We will fully implement the strategic action plan for the protection of biodiversity and kick-start biodiversity conservation projects as soon as possible. We will complete the fundamental investigation and evaluation of the national nature reserves, and enhance protection and supervision of the national key ecological function zones. We will establish and improve the ecological compensation mechanism, and the central fiscal transfer payment funds will continue to increase and expand the scope. We will promote pilot projects for development of ecological civilization, and further ecological demonstration program. We will seriously implement the Notice of Short-term Arrangement on Soil Environmental Protection and Comprehensive Treatment issued by the General Office of the State Council, deepen the policies of reward-based pollution control and reward for subsidy, and expand the scope of contiguous rural environmental treatment. We will fully execute the system of target responsibility system for comprehensive treatment of rural environment.

7. Strengthening supervision on nuclear and radiation safety.

We will improve the nuclear safety supervision and the emergency response mechanism for nuclear accidents, and accelerate the construction of the national nuclear and radiation safety supervision technology R & D base and automatic monitoring station on radiation environment. By focusing on the operating and under-construction nuclear power plants, we will strengthen the safety supervision of various nuclear facilities. We will intensify the efforts of radioactive waste treatment, carry out simplified approval pilot projects for the use of nuclear technology. We will explore supervision mode for radiation environmental safety of uranium mine, and strengthen the whole process management of radiation environment for construction projects in electricity transmission and distribution, telecommunication, radio and television areas.  

8. Establishing and implementing the objective system for building ecological civilization and promotion approaches.   

MEP has carried out research on the objective system for developing ecological civilization for over two years, and set up a consultation paper on the objective system for building of ecological civilization. It has been submitted to the Central Committee, related departments of the State Council and provincial governments for comments. Corresponding promotion approaches are also being researched, formulated, and should be introduced as soon as possible. We will also play a more active role in optimizing land development pattern, promoting all-around resource conservation, and enhancing the system of building ecological civilization.

9. Fully enhancing safeguard measures.

We will carry out in depth research on legal construction of ecological civilization and strive to accomplish the amendment of Environment Protection Law. We will fully promote the execution of the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection, and design the 13th Five-Year Plan as early as possible on the basis of a solid interim evaluation. We will plan for major special projects, organize implementation of major environmental projects specified by the 12th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection and the 12th Five-Year Plan for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction. We will issue the plan for capability building of national environmental supervision for “12th Five-Year” period. We will improve environmental policies and legislations, research and develop the strictest system for environmental protection. We will enhance environmental technology standards and strengthen technological supports. We will deepen the reform of the cadre and personnel system, promote the development of talents for environmental protection, and design the reform of environmental systems. We will properly organize major publicity events such as the World Environment Day, and launch a nationwide campaign of environmental education. We will prepare for the 2013 annual conference of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, and continue to promote bilateral and regional cooperation in environmental protection.

10. Emphasizing a clean government and a change of work style.

According to the Central Committee’s Eight Requirements on Improving the Party's Work Style and Maintaining Close Ties with the People, our leading Party members’ group has specifically formulated the related action plans and we should ensure all these be faithfully carried out. For improving the Party’s work style, building administrative ethics and intensifying anti-corruption and integrity within the environmental sector, every department and every unit should take the practice of improving work style and maintaining close ties with the people as an important task to accomplish.

All in all, to do a better job in 2013, we should make strenuous efforts in creating highlights, seizing the key tasks, overcoming difficulties and dealing with hot issues.   

Firstly, creating highlights. Pollution reduction is the highlight of environmental work in 2012. The release and implementing new air quality standards is also a highlight and will be the leveraging fulcrum for the development of environmental work. In the future, while continuing to enhance efforts in pollution reduction and implementing air quality standards, we should persist in reform and innovation, and continuously create highlights in every fields of environmental protection.

Secondly, seizing the key tasks. Solving the outstanding problems that hinder the scientific development and damage public health are always the focal points of environmental protection. We should give full play to environmental protection as an instrument of macro-control and play an active role in containing heavy pollution, high energy consumption and resource-consuming industries and the development of low-level redundant and overcapacity projects. We should concentrate our efforts on resolving problems concerning people’s well being such as drinking water, heavy metals, chemicals, hazardous waste, and persistent organic pollutants.

Thirdly, overcoming difficulties. As far as our jobs are concerned, it is difficult to correctly handle the relationship between economic development and environmental protection. We should seek the causes of environmental problems from the economic policies. A proper economic policy is the right policy for environment. Emphasizing environmental protection without economic development would be like “climbing trees to catch fish”, while carrying out economic development without environmental protection would be like “catching the fish by draining the pool”. We ought to seek environmental protection in the course of economic development and pursue development in the process of environmental protection. We should optimize economic development with environmental protection and strive to promote their integration.  

Fourthly, dealing with hot issues. The control of PM2.5 pollution is a hot issue for present environmental work. We should adhere to the principle of “being open and transparent, and making modest operations”. We should get prepared for a tenacious battle as well as a protracted war. To fight a tenacious battle is to follow the three-step requirements and do a good job in monitoring and releasing information of PM2.5. To fight a protracted war is to promote the air pollution control and effectively improve the quality of the environment by focusing on PM2.5. The control of PM2.5 is a systematic project which requires the coordination of relevant departments and the whole society to act together to form a broad “green united front”.

IV. Implementing through reform and fine work style

As the objectives, tasks and measures of our environmental work have been defined, the key for the moment is a solid implementation. We should strive to realize “three breakthroughs”: a breakthrough in deepening reform, a breakthrough in promoting core work and a breakthrough in improving work style.

I will raise four requirements on implementation.     

Executing the study and implementation of the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC)  

Learning the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the CPC is and will be the primary political task for our environmental protection sector for the present and immediate future. This requires cohesion in thought and action.

Firstly, we will transform the achievement from learning the spirit of the 18th National Congress into the world outlook and methodologies to guide our environmental work. The 18th National Congress has established the historical status of the scientific outlook on development, and given explanations to major issues concerning what banner the CPC will hold, what path it will take, what ideological state it will keep, and what goal it is trying to achieve. Our environmental protection sector should develop a thorough understanding of the historical status, scientific connotation and guiding significance of the scientific outlook on development;of socialism with Chinese characteristics, its theoretical & social system, and basic requirements; of the goal of developing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and deepening reform and opening up in an all-around way; of the overall layout and strategic arrangement of the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and of the new requirement of improving the scientific level of party building in all respects. We should guide our practice and make strategic work plan with the spirit of the 18th National Congress, and make our work effective. 

Secondly, we will convert the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee on building ecological civilization into the motivation of our work. One of the major highlights of the 18th National Congress Report is incorporating the building of ecological civilization into the overall five-in-one (promoting economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress) approach in building socialism with Chinese characteristic. The environmental system shall deepen the understanding of “ecological civilization and building a beautiful China”; achieve unity in thinking, strengthen cohesion, overcome difficulties, more proactively devote ourselves into the building of ecological civilization and a beautiful China; and be the leader, promoter and enforcer to promoting the building of ecological civilization and a beautiful China.

Thirdly, we will translate theories and methods learned into the wisdoms and capabilities of doing a good job. We shall broaden our horizon, obtain new knowledge, build wisdom, and deepen our strategic thinking of the overall, long term and fundamental nature of environmental protection. Further, we shall constantly improve our rational thinking, coordinating and planning, organization & management, problem-solving skills and abilities. Each of us should actively participate in and contribute to the building of the cause of environmental protection.

2. Implementing further reforms

Reform is the biggest bonus for China. As China's reform is now entering the crucial stage, greater political courage and wisdom are required to propel further reforms. In order to promote ecological civilization and the building of a beautiful China, environmental protection sector calls for continuous reform and innovation.

Formulating the road map and timetable for reform and innovation in environmental protection. Balancing the relationship between environment and economy, and comprehensively leveraging legal, market, technical and necessary administrative means are the core issues for the environmental protection reform. Currently, the side-effect of fragmentation caused by sporadic reforms is quite obvious, and it has impeded the progress of reform. We should better the top-down design and overall planning, formulate an overall plan, road map and timetable so that the reform can be conducted in a more holistic, systematic, and coordinated way emphasizing integrated planning and collaborative promotion. This year’s task is to make new breakthroughs in areas such as accelerating the transformation of environmental management, delegating approval authority, strengthening information disclosure, expanding public participation, and improving work styles.  

Paying attention to innovation in ways and means of working. In recent years, environmental protection sector has continuously explored and practiced innovative working methods. Being down to earth, big development driven by major engineering projects, putting technical standards ahead, joint-prevention and control, reward-based pollution control have all helped to open up a new situation in our work. We should continue to come up with new ideas, explore new methods and develop new measures.

3. Carrying out key tasks  

10 key tasks for this year have been deployed and they are very demanding. Since our work has been assigned, we must try our best to complete them. To accomplish these key tasks, we need thought transformation, proper measures as well as perseverance. We do have many successful experiences in this regard. In recent years, large amount of investment have been put in environmental protection, and many projects have been launched accordingly. How to make better return for these capitals? I used to suggest three elements: strict control in resources, prudent usage in money and priority in quality. All these approaches have contributed significantly in building up environmental capacity and supporting pollution reduction.

Recently heavy pollution weather has been witnessed in some areas. This again reminds us that we must unswervingly carry out pollution prevention and control. We must put pollution control in a more important position. Information disclosure shall be step one, the subsequent environmental remediation is the real tough job. If the pollution information is released, but follow-up control and remediation actions is not enough, we will be in big trouble. Therefore, we can only win confidence of the people by effective pollution control and successful environmental quality improvement.  

4. Improving work style

Work style is essential once the work ideas are identified. A healthy work style leads to a good image and a prosperous career. Poor job implementation and performance are mainly attributed to work style problems. Our national environmental sector has made some achievements in work style building, but there are still some problems and deficiencies. These apparent problems manifest in the following respects: too many meetings and paperwork, too little research and in-depth dissection; too many inspections and too little improvement analysis. Meanwhile, negative phenomena such as difficult access, bad attitude and inefficiency still exist. The lack of awareness of reform and innovation as well as hard work and enterprising spirit are the major sources of work style problems.

In order to carry out the “eight provisions” to improve work style introduced by the Central Committee of CPC, our ministry has set up 24 items of requirements covering 10 aspects. The main coverage includes: improving research and supervision while focusing on the practical effect and reducing the grassroots burden; condensing meetings and activities while strictly controlling the scale and duration and continuously improving the efficiency and quality; strictly managing documents and briefings while controlling the types and quantity and improving the quality and effectiveness; strengthening the administration of business trip abroad and improving news-reporting. These provisions proposed by leading Party members’ group of our ministry are very specific, and thus easy to follow. We shall firstly, organize party members and leading cadres to thoroughly study and implement these requirements, cross-check the gaps and shortcomings of our work style and carry out in-depth analysis of the sources of the problem accordingly. Secondly, we shall establish and improve rules and regulations for better understanding and easy execution. Thirdly, we shall adhere to solid work, solving problems one by one, carrying out assignments one by one. And lastly, we shall strengthen supervision and inspection, and establish long-term mechanism to prevent “a flash in the pan” and rebounds.

Anti-corruption and promoting political integrity is a clear-cut and long-term political commitment of our Party and is a major political issue of great concern to the people. In recent years, environmental sector has been entrusted with more and more responsibilities and funds, and accordingly the risks to clean government are increasingly prominent. We must therefore make unremitting efforts to fight corruption. We will conscientiously implement the spirit of the Second Plenary Session of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, fully advance the establishment of an anti-corruption system incorporating punishment and prevention features for our national environmental system, carry out intensive activities throughout the Party to study and practice its mass line focusing on the need to serve the people and to be down-to-earth, honest and upright in conduct, establish and improve the operation of power control and monitoring mechanisms, implement prevention and control measures, severely punish all varieties of law and discipline violations. Party members and leading cadres at all levels should always keep the “Clean Government Norms”in mind. (Constantly cultivate the morality in governance, conduct self-discipline, keep the harm of greed in mind and abandon inordinate ambitions. Strictly avoid the abuse of power, self-indulgence, spending ethics for profits and flashy comparisons. Cherish political life, honor and reputation, family and the ordinary life) 

Officials at all levels should set good examples and proactively promote self-restraint. They themselves should first achieve what they ask others to do, and should never do what they request others not to do. I have made this solemn promise many times that our leading Party members’ group accepts the supervision from the national environmental system voluntarily. The leading Party members’ group will accomplish first what it asks all others to perform, and I myself will not ask the leading Party members’ group to do things unless I have made it. Please supervise us. We must always bear in mind the purpose of our party, remain high-spirited and work for our country and people in a conscientious and clean way, starting from now on, from ourselves, from daily routines. 

Dear colleagues, the 18th National Congress of the CPC has presented a rosy prospect for the environmental cause. Let us hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, forge ahead under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary, work down to earth and continue the exploration of a new path to environmental protection, making greater contributions to building a modern China with ecological civilization.

 

 

 

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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